Teachers and parents told News On 6 schooling has been difficult during the pandemic but for children with special needs, they said there are added layers to the learning curve.
"When you have a child with special needs or a child that is medically fragile like our Hudson is, you're concerned about a lot of things,” parent ambassador Mindy Wiggins said.
Wiggins said educating children with special needs comes with its own set of challenges. Many of them are more vulnerable to infection and illnesses.
Screens can heighten some students' sensory systems. This can make it difficult for them to learn.
"We are all different. We're just all different in different ways,” Wiggins said. “These children have a lot to offer, and if you take the time to see it, you'll be blessed."
Wiggins’ son, Hudson, has fetal alcohol syndrome and requires seven hours a week of physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy outside of school each week.
She said socialization is crucial for Hudson's development, which is something that's hard to do during a pandemic.
"Losing that momentum is of great concern to us,” Wiggins said.
The Little Light House serves more than 200 students with various physical and intellectual disabilities.
The Little Light House director of therapy Lauren Gebhard said the school is offering connected online learning through Facebook groups, Zoom sessions and interactive online videos.
Teachers are also sending home activity packets for students and parents.
Still, Gebhard knows the school’s efforts can’t replace in-person learning.
"I just want our kids to know how much we miss them and how much we love them and how much we can't wait till the day our classrooms are full and loud and messy,” Gebhard said.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, teachers at Little Light House said they’ve managed to find happy moments during the difficult times.
“Getting praise reports from the parents about, ‘My child did this at home,’ or ‘My child loved this,’ or ‘This activity was great, and now I know how to do this with my child,’” Gebhard said.
Parents said learning to adapt isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding.
“Challenges can be daunting at times, but when you choose to see the blessing in them, there is a blessing to be found,” Wiggins said.